COLUMBIA, S.C. --
State agents are investigating a major theft at the South Carolina Forestry Commission's maintenance and storage area.
The Forestry Commission said about $100,000 worth of equipment was stolen between 4 p.m. Dec. 23 and 8:15 a.m. Dec. 27.
Someone cut through a locked gate at the agency's state headquarters in Columbia. Among the items stolen are critical pieces of equipment needed for emergency response. The agency said laptops, generators, a diesel flatbed truck and two ATVs were also taken.
The Forestry Commission's law enforcement division, Columbia police and the State Law Enforcement Division are involved in the investigation.
"This is a crime not just against our agency, but against the citizens of South Carolina," said Scott Hawkins of the Forestry Commission's public information office. "We've built up our Incident Management Team over time and acquired much of the gear with one-time-only Homeland Security grants."
The theft is just the latest blow to the cash-strapped agency. Dwindling state funds have whittled the agency's budget down by 45 percent, $8 million over the last three years.
Anyone with information is asked to contact their local police department or the Forestry Commission at 1-800-777-FIRE (3473).
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